The Drinks Cabinet: Where to Start

Posted April 27th at 3:58pm

A drinks cabinet at home is a must for anyone who enjoys entertaining, not only can it keep you well lubricated with drinks you enjoy, it can become a conversation point and a real draw to your friends coming back.

When getting your own drinks cabinet started, looking at the purpose-built cabinets, full of alcohol, mixers, garnishes, various glasses, equipment and an ice box, can be daunting. However, creating your own drinks cabinet should be fun and can be relatively straightforward, that's why we've created this guide to help get your drinks cabinet started.

There are two key points to come back to whenever deciding on your drinks cabinet gets overwhelming, so that's where we will start.

            It's what you like that counts

This is your drinks cabinet and as you will be the main consumer of the drinks in your cabinet, you should make sure you have what you like in there. A drinks cabinet often becomes an extension of you, by loading it with your favourite tipples you are sharing your style with family, friends and neighbours. It can be a great experience to share your drinking tastes with others, introducing them to new flavours, sparking conversations on beverages and your experiences around them, seeing them enjoying your style, and sometimes it's just an opportunity to show off! A good drinks cabinet can regularly be at the heart of a great evening.

On a practical note, if you fill your cabinet with drinks you think others want, you will often be spending lots of money on bottles you only watch gathering dust.

            Start small

Another common mistake made by budding drinks cabinet enthusiasts is to get everything that might be of interest at once, at great expense generally too. Remember that building your cabinet is a marathon not a sprint.

We have found that it is much more effective to start with a small range and grow it over time.

If there's a couple of cocktails you like start there, such as an Old Fashioned (bourbon and bitters) or a Sidecar (cognac/brandy and triple sec). This allows you to become an expert in the cocktail you love and slowly grow your repertoire, firstly with the ingredients you have (like taking the bourbon from an Old Fashioned and creating a Spiked Southern Tea – bourbon, maple syrup/honey and tea).

The same is true for aged masterpieces that have been carefully crafted and should only be drunk neat, think a fifteen year old Scotch. Start with a couple that you like to sip, leaving you space to grow your cabinet overtime as you get the opportunity to experience new delights.

Filling the cabinet immediately doesn't allow your tastes and range to grow…that just means that you are missing out!

In the next post we cover the spirits that you may choose to include in your cabinet, with cocktail suggestions, so you know how to make your favourites at home.

And if you're wondering how you would experience new spirit delights and grow your drinks cabinets, impressing your friends as you do, take a look at The Summerton Club membership.

            The Cabinet

The thought of the physical cabinet can be what stops many from starting their drinks cabinet, but if you start with the two key points you will be fine. Everyone is different, with some making space in a cupboard and others prefer a purpose-built space. As previously mentioned, a drinks cabinet often becomes an extension of you, so make sure it's what you like…you’re hopefully going to be using it a lot.

Start small, so you only need a little space, find your rhythm and once you've gotten into the flow of drinks-making excellence, you will know what you need in your cabinet and how much space it will require.

            My Cabinet

When it comes to my drinks cabinet, I keep to the two main points. Firstly, it is located in a boarded up serving hatch in my living room, where I need my drinks.

Then when it comes to the drinks, bourbon, brandy and rum (rhum and ron too) are my spirits of choice, plus I like a good port and my red wine. I often like to drink my spirits neat, but if it is a cocktail it will generally be based on these favourites, except for Bloody Marys, I do love a Bloody Mary!

Finally, I also like to try new things. With all this in mind, my drinks cabinet currently has the following:

Vodka – for the morning Bloody Mary

Rhum – a well-aged dark rum that just needs a bit of ice. Does well in a Rum Old Fashioned

Ron – a nice golden rum for more summery cocktails

Whisky – Bourbon this is where I started my journey with spirits, so is always my go-to bottle. I also do like an Old Fashioned

Brandy – there’s so much choice, currently I have a Cider Brandy, it goes great in a Sidecar

Cognac – another good sipping brandy

The Random Bottle – This time round it’s an Eau-de-Vie. This is where The Summerton Club comes into its own, sharing amazing new bottles for members to enjoy, take a look at Summerton Club membership.

Jägermeister – Herb digestiv that’s left over from a Christmas party

Port – what else would you have with a cheese platter?

Red Wine – Three nice full-bodied bottles as whenever I only have one I always regret not having the second

Big Tom Spiced Tomato Juice – in the fridge, ready for my next Bloody Mary

­Ice – in the freezer

Whisky Stones – in the freezer for the drinks where adding ice dilutes the flavour

Equipment – Cocktail shaker and jigger are the basics I need for making my own cocktails

            Ready for more?
For the next blog entry I will look in more detail at the spirits you can include in your Drinks Cabinet